Ranking the Three New Epcot Attractions
Everyone knows that Epcot is undergoing dramatic changes right now. To offset some of the temporary inconveniences, park planners have added new Epcot attractions at/near the World Showcase.
Three of them just went live in January of 2020. Which is the best? Are all of them worth your time? Here’s what you need to know about the three new shows at Epcot.
At the Land pavilion, Disney has replaced a presentation from the mid-90s with something new. Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable first arrived in February of 1995, only a few months after The Lion King debuted in theaters. It felt timely for the era, but the show grew stale in recent years.
So, Disney closed it in 2018 and prepped a replacement. The new offering is Awesome Planet, a clever 10-minute short film that presents the beauties of Earth in a tidy package. The conceit is that Modern Family’s Ty Burrell wants to sell the planet.
As the narrator, a real estate agent, Burrell pitches all of the strongest amenities in the world. Awesome Planet is a visually sumptuous story with a few special effects through in for good measure. In fact, the first time I watched it, an early rumbling effect caused the attraction to malfunction to the point that Disney had to evacuate. The movie stopped after only 15 seconds!
We returned later that day to try again, and this screening occurred without incident. To an extent, Awesome Planet works as an immobile version of Soarin’. The high-quality scenery in the movie will dazzle you, only you’re sitting on the ground floor of a movie theater rather than lifted in the air.
Awesome Planet also pipes in scents to manipulate your senses during a few sequences. Similarly, Imagineers equipped the movie theater with wind and mist effects to make the attraction more immersive. As for the story, you can watch the clip posted above to make up your own mind.
Personally, I find the attraction delightful. Burrell’s oddly reassuring as a narrator, and the filmmaking on display dazzles the senses. I’d give it an eight out of 10, along with the confession that I may not watch it every time I visit Epcot. I could see it losing some appeal on repeat viewing, just as happened with An Environmental Fable.
Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along
The France pavilion has hosted Impressions de France since Epcot’s opening day. That classic presentation will receive a 21st-century makeover soon. In the interim, Disney has boosted traffic by adding a tale as old as time to the area.
The Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along tells the classic story from a new perspective. LeFou becomes the hero in this version of events. You may find the thought blasphemous. However, the upshot here is that Disney animated entirely new sequences for this attraction.
Of course, guests are really here to sing their favorite songs from Beauty and the Beast. Be Our Guest, Something There, and the title track from the soundtrack are all part of the proceedings.
You’ll never regret spending time at the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along. Still, I must acknowledge the criticism about the attraction. Walt Disney World already hosts two other versions of Beauty and the Beast — Enchanted Tales with Belle at Magic Kingdom and Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Does the France pavilion need a third one? I’ll leave that up to you to decide. What I’ll say about my most recent trip is that my party arrived at 10:50 a.m. for an attraction that begins at 11 a.m. It fit perfectly with our needs and had us humming songs from Beauty and the Beast for hours afterward.
Out of the three new shows, I find Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along the most derivative. I’d still give it a seven out of 10, though. When you’re at Epcot, you can’t go wrong by watching this show.
Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360°
As a native southerner, I’ve never liked cold weather. Due to some unlikely events, I’m blessed to have several close friends who are Canadian, though. So, I’m always captivated by displays of culture involving our friends to the north.
At the Canada pavilion, O Canada has entertained guests since 1982. Sadly, Disney decided to mothball it in favor of a new movie. Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360° modernizes the video footage while still encapsulating the majesty of the Great White North.
Scenes of lush forests and mountainous vistas contrast with skyscraping panoramic displays of Canada’s metropolitan areas. Hobbyists demonstrate their skills in aerobatics, crafting, skiing, and (of course) hockey across the monitors.
During the experience, you’ll witness every possible angle of each event, adding to the replay value. You could feasibly watch the film several times, noticing new details on each screen. Due to the repeat value and breathtaking visuals, I grade this presentation as a nine out of 10 and the best of the three new shows.
A caveat about Circle-Vision 360°
I presume that longtime Disney fans have experienced a 360-degree attraction at some point. They’ve anchored Epcot’s World Showcase pavilions since the beginning. So, odds are good that if you’ve spent time visiting international pavilions, you’ve watched one of the shows.
To those who haven’t, I give a word of warning. This form of movie-viewing can overwhelm the senses. Disney posts signs throughout the facility that advise guests about the totality of the experience. Some people do freak out and leave, although this only happens a few times a week.
So, if you aren’t sure, give Circle-Vision 360° a try. However, be prepared that you may find the film disorienting. I suggest that you look at the floor and catch your breath for a moment before looking up at the projection screens again.
Since Awesome Planet isn’t in Circle-Vision, you may prefer it to the Canada film. To a larger point, you’ll have a great time at any of these new attractions. The new Epcot attractions will provide you with a welcome respite during a busy park day.